Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is, of course, best known as the author ofÂ Little WomenÂ (1868). But she was also a noted essayist who wroteÂ on a wide range of subjects, includingÂ her father’s failed utopian commune,Â the benefits of an unmarried life,Â and her experience as a young woman sent to work in service to alleviate her family’s poverty. Her firstÂ literary successÂ was a contemporary close-up accountÂ of the American Civil War,Â brilliantly depicted inÂ Hospital SketchesÂ drawn from her own experienceÂ of serving as an army nurse near the nation’s capitol. As with her famous novel, Alcott writes these essays with clear observation, unforgettable scenes, and one of the sharpest wits in American literature.
Blending gentle satire with reportage and emotive autobiography, Alcott’s exquisite essays are as exceptional as the novels she is known for. Published together for the first time, this delightful selection shows us another side to one of our most celebrated writers.